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Afoma Umesi: Field Guide to Getting Lost (Social-Emotional Learning, Divorce): A Review




Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough, Atheneum, April 2020


Luis and Sutton are two vastly different children, brought together when their parents’ relationship becomes serious.


Sutton is a socially-awkward girl with a passion for robotics (she’s created her first mini-bot!). Her parents are divorced and her mother lives and works with penguins in Antarctica.


Although Sutton’s father is an excellent parent, Sutton is bummed about her mother being unable to return home for her birthday. You can imagine how much more difficult the news is when her father informs her that he wants her to meet his girlfriend — and her son, no less.


Luis’ father died when he was younger and since then, his mother’s life has revolved around protecting him from his myriad allergies. Because he is allergic — and life-threateningly so — to everything from bee stings to peanuts, Luis is unable to experience the world as freely as he would like. So, he escapes by writing adventurous fantasies with brave characters.


Written in dual perspectives, readers enjoy a richer experience of both characters’ inner worlds: Sutton’s, clever and awkward; Luis’s, earnest and imaginative. While this novel doesn’t have a particularly arresting plot, the author’s writing shines in the vividness of her characters.


With themes of blended families, a deceased parent, a STEM-loving protagonist, and another protagonist with serious food allergies, this novel is full of important and fun elements. Younger middle-grade readers will especially love this short (under 250 pages!) book with a protagonist turning ten.


A Field Guide to Getting Lost is an almost-slice-of-life novel about two children finding friendship when thrust together by their parents’ choice to date. Sutton and Luis, but Luis especially, show readers the power of embracing differences, and choosing kindness even when we’re outside our comfort zones.


Complementary Reading


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You can find even more books about divorce, blended families, and social-emotional learning HERE.


Afoma Umesi is a freelance writer and editor with a voracious appetite for children's books. She's passionate about literacy and freelancing and shares book lists, book reviews, and freelancing resources on her blog. You can also connect with Afoma on Twitter.